March 2, 2016
By John Heisler
University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan remembers not so many years ago when scheduling the best teams in the country proved a major challenge.
Even home-and-home series were difficult to negotiate. It wasn’t simple for teams to get to South Bend, and the Irish were just good enough to suggest visiting squads were not likely to win. From a budget standpoint, it often was easier for the traditional lacrosse powers up and down the Eastern seaboard to jump in a bus to find a nearby rival.
That changed once Notre Dame entered the BIG EAST Conference (the league began sponsoring men’s lacrosse in 2010) – and it got better with the move to the Atlantic Coast Conference. A new on-campus facility just for lacrosse – 5,000-seat Arlotta Stadium – certainly didn’t hurt.
So it’s no surprise that Notre Dame’s schedule now annually ranks as one of the most difficult in the country – currently fourth on the NCAA’s list of most challenging 2016 slates.
And it gets serious on a regular basis beginning the next two weekends when the Irish play the two teams that met in the NCAA Championship title game last Memorial Day – Maryland and Denver. Later down the line are currently ranked foes Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina and Marquette.
Here’s why the 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST) neutral-site matchup Saturday when unbeaten Notre Dame (ranked #1 in two polls, #2 in a third) and one-loss Maryland (ranked seventh, eighth or ninth, depending on the poll) square off in the Pacific Coast Shootout in Costa Mesa, California, will be worth buying a ticket:
1. Watch the face-off circle – It’s early in the year to take statistics too seriously, yet it’s worth noting that Maryland takes the field Saturday with the top-performing face-off man in the country in Austin Henningsen. He’s dominated those events to the tune of a .786 win percentage. He’ll match up with Notre Dame’s P.J. Finley who ranks ninth nationally at .660.
2. This is a tournament-qualify matchup – These two programs have met only eight previous times, but five of those have been in the postseason (four in the NCAA Championship, one in the ACC Championship). Both teams carried national rankings into all eight of those earlier games. In four of the games the lower-rated team won.
3. How good is Notre Dame’s defense? – Three games in eight days to open the 2016 season left the Irish with a 6.0 goals-against average that rates fourth nationally. How does that rank? It’s a measure of Notre Dame’s long-running defensive success that the Irish in nine previous seasons held their first four opponents to single-digit goals (only in 2001, 2008, 2009 and 2011 did they win all those contests). If Notre Dame can both defeat Maryland and limit the Terps to seven or fewer goals, it would mark the first time the Irish started with four consecutive victories holding their opponent to seven or fewer goals. Notre Dame almost did it in 2012 when Notre Dame began by limiting its first four opponents to a combined 17 goals. But the Irish defeated #2 Duke 7-3, lost to #20 Penn State 4-3 in overtime, then defeated #19 Drexel 6-5 and #19 Hofstra 6-5 in overtime.
4. Kevin Corrigan on the Terps – “That (the loss to Yale) means they learned something about themselves. They’ll come into this game a little more finely tuned. We’re going to see a more determined team, a more refined effort. And we already know how capable they are.”
5. Who says this is an East Coast sport? – With Notre Dame playing in the Pacific Coast Shootout for the second time in three years, it’s probably no accident that there are six players on the current Irish roster from California – senior defenseman Chris Carter (San Diego/Torrey Pines), freshman defenseman Hugh Crance (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar), starting senior captain and defenseman Eddy Glazener (La Jolla/The Bishop’s School), senior midfielder Bobby Gray (San Rafael/ St. Ignatius Prep), freshman defenseman Mitch Olinger (Alamo/De La Salle) and freshman midfielder Nick Stinn (San Francisco/St. Ignatius Prep). Here are additional Irish lacrosse California connections:
- Notre Dame took part in the first Division I men’s lacrosse games played in the state of California on March 30-31, 1990, when the Irish defeated Air Force 12-11 and host school San Diego State 18-10 to win the four-team San Diego Tournament.
- On March 12, 2005, #9 Notre Dame defeated #7 North Carolina 9-7 in the First 4 Invitational played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
- The Irish made a fall break trip to San Francisco in 2010 (including a game versus Johns Hopkins).
- Among former Californians on previous Irish rosters is three-time monogram-winner Ryan Mix, an Irish attack from 2011-14 from Newport Beach, California (Corona del Mar).
- Former Irish players Alex Cade and Steve Sepeta serve as CEO and president, respectively of Adrenaline Lacrosse in San Diego, California. Cade (an Irish four-year letter-winner in 1995-98 as goalie and USILA honorable mention All-American in 1996) also coaches boys’ lacrosse at Coronado High School in Coronado, California, while Sepeta (won three monograms as Irish middie/defender in 1996-99) is coach at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla.
#1 Irish Chase 4th Straight vs. 2015 NCAA Runner-Up Maryland
— #8/#9(tie)/#7 MARYLAND (1-1) vs. #1/#2/#1 NOTRE DAME (3-0)
— Saturday, March 5, 2016 – 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST
— 3rd Pacific Coast Shootout
— LeBard Stadium (capacity 7,600; on campus of Orange Coast College) – Costa Mesa, California
Rankings are Inside Lacrosse (media)/USILA (coaches)/Lacrosse magazine
Live Video Stream:
PACIFIC COAST SHOOTOUT
This is the third year this event will be played.
— Denver defeated Notre Dame 10-7 in the 2014 event, while Maryland in 2015 knocked off North Carolina 10-8. Ticket information is available here: https://www.pacificcoastlaxshootout.com/tickets.php?page=buy.
— Fans also can take part in “An Irish Supper” with the University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team at 6 p.m. PST Monday (March 7) at Harborside Pavilion in Newport Beach, California. There are three levels of admission to the event: A hosted table for four (4) guests and up to four (4) Notre Dame players is $800.00. An un-hosted table for eight (8) guests is $425.00. Individual tickets are $55.00.
— “An Irish Supper” hosted table includes: “An Irish Supper” event elements: – Private hosted table includes four (4) seats for the host and his or her guests joined by up to four (4) members of the Notre Dame lacrosse team – Buffet dinner for four (4) – A meet and greet opportunity with Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan – One (1) customized Cascade Notre Dame lacrosse helmet – Four (4) VIP gifts – plus Shootout game day elements: – Four (4) reserved section tickets to the 2016 Pacific Coast Shootout – Four (4) pre-game, VIP field level access passes during team warm-ups – One (1) VIP parking pass.
— Tickets for “An Irish Supper” are available here: https://cheetahgroupinc.formstack.com/forms/an_irish_supper_tickets.
2016 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE AND SCORES (3-0)
Notre Dame began the 2016 season rated first in both the Nike/Lacrosse magazine and Cascade/Maverik/Inside Lacrosse media preseason polls, while the Irish were second (behind 2015 NCAA champion Denver) in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association preseason poll of coaches. Notre Dame moved to the top spot in the Feb. 15 USILA poll, then went back to second in the Feb. 22 and 29 USILA listings. Here are the Feb. 29 polls (italics indicate 2016 Notre Dame opponent):
— USILA (coaches): 1.Denver, 2.Notre Dame, 3.Syracuse, 4.Duke, 5. Loyola, 6.Yale, 7.Brown, 8.Hofstra, 9.(tie)North Carolina and Maryland, 11.Towson, 12.Harvard, 13.Johns Hopkins, 14.Villanova, 15.Albany, 16.Rutgers, 17.Virginia, 18.Stony Brook. 19.Marquette, 20 Penn State.
— Cascade/Maverik/Inside Lacrosse (media): 1.Notre Dame, 2.Denver, 3.Syracuse, 4.Duke, 5.Loyola, 6.Yale, 7.Brown, 8.Maryland, 9.Hofstra, 10.North Carolina, 11.Towson, 12.Harvard, 13.Johns Hopkins, 14.Virginia, 15.Villanova, 16.Albany, 17.Marquette, 18.Penn State, 19.(tie)Rutgers and Boston University.
— Nike/Lacrosse magazine: 1.Notre Dame, 2.Denver, 3.Duke, 4.Yale, 5.Syracuse, 6.Loyola, 7.Maryland, 8.Brown, 9.Hofstra, 10.North Carolina, 11.Johns Hopkins, 12.Towson, 13.Virginia, 14.Albany, 15.Marquette, 16.Harvard, 17.Villanova, 18.Boston University, 19.High Point, 20.Rutgers.
NOTRE DAME AND THE NUMBER-ONE SPOT
Notre Dame ranked first in all three polls in the Feb. 15, 2016, versions of those ratings.
— The Irish spent four weeks holding down the number-one spot in 2015, losing that ranking by virtue of a 13-8 loss to Duke in an ACC Championship semifinal match.
— After beating #1 Syracuse on March 28, 2015, Notre Dame moved to the top of the USILA (coaches) and Inside Lacrosse Cascade/Maverik (media) polls.
— Since the program’s inception in 1981, Notre Dame has been ranked #1 in both polls for nine weeks. Here are Notre Dame’s appearances at #1:
* April 18/May 2, 2011 (USILA and media polls — 2 weeks)
* March 25/April 1, 2013 (USILA and media polls — 1 week)
* April 22/April 29, 2013 (USILA and media polls — 1 week)
* March 30/April 20, 2015 (USILA and media polls — 4 weeks)
* February 15, 2016 (USILA and media polls — 1 week)
THE MARYLAND SERIES
The Irish and Terps have met eight previous times, with Maryland holding a 5-3 edge. The squads most recently played three times during the 2014 campaign (when Maryland was still an Atlantic Coast Conference member), with the Terps winning 12-8 in a regular-season meeting in South Bend, then Notre Dame prevailing 6-5 in an ACC Tournament semifinal in Philadelphia and again 11-6 in an NCAA national semifinal in Baltimore. Here are the details, with four of the eight matchups coming in the NCAA Championship:
For more information, please consult the complete game notes .
John Heisler, senior associate athletics director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 1978. A South Bend, Indiana, native, he is a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame. He is editor of the award-winning “Strong of Heart” series.